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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gold Occurrences in Panama

The Coat of Arms of Panama shows plenty of evidence about the gold mining history of the  country.

The Isthmus of Panama is what joins North America to South America, and is the home of the Panama Canal joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Not surprisingly Panama also contains extensive gold deposits that have only recently been exploited.  Although gold was known in the earliest days it wasn’t until the early 1990s that several groups of miners who were mainly Canadians got several concessions from the Panamanian government to exploit the mineral resources of the Republic of Panama.  At the time because of lack of infrastructure there was no sense in mining Panama’s mineral wealth.  This all changed when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11/2001 by ramming the buildings with airplanes.  This started the price of gold spiraling upwards from a price that was pegged at $300/oz in March 2001 to more then $1,500 today.  Gold isn’t the only source of mineral wealth in the country that may prove to be the largest copper deposits found anywhere on the planet.  By 2004 the money started pouring in to Panama for exploration of mineral resources, and it is still pouring into the country.

The Isthmus of Panama was formed about three million years ago when huge amounts of sediments from both North and South America filled in the gaps between the islands of an island arc forming a solid strip of land that finally joined the two continents together.  Many scientists feel this was one of the most important events that has occurred in the past 60 million years.  Because it filled the gap between the Americas it completely changed the pattern of oceanic circulation that gave us the world’s present climates by forcing warm water northwards thereby heating the whole northern hemisphere.  It also created a landbridge that allowed the plants and animals from the Americas to mingle.

Panama and the Panama Canal,  The high mountains to the south of the canal are the home of much of the gold in the country, but gold is found throughout the country wherever there are volcanic mountains   NASA

The islands were for the most part volcanic like the modern Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea.  These volcanoes are represented today by the string of volcanoes in  Panama.  It is these volcanoes inland from the subduction zone just off the west coast of Panama where the Cocos Plate is being subducted beneath Panama that keeps these remnants of volcanic islands still active today it also provides the heat engine that allowed the many mineral deposits to form.

Gold panning lessons.   Public Domain

There are extensive deposits of placer gold in Panama with one of them in the southern part of the country more then 100 miles long along the banks of a river.  Because of its tropical nature the placer deposits in the country have been little exploited although some artisanal native miners have been working these deposits for years.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gold in Black Shale, Metal Extraction using Specially Cultivated Bacteria

A settling pond in front of a heap leaching pile.   USGS

Gold and other metals are found in black shale usually in quantities too small to mine economically using the old methods, but that is all changed with the introduction of a process called  bioextraction that is closely related to bioremediation. The author has actually use this technique in his environmental consulting business to remediate industrial sites that were contaminated with heavy metals. This particular method of metal extraction makes use of local bacteria that are already present in the soils around the area of black shale.

A cultivated bacteria used to heap leach black shale.   NOAA

This method of using the natural bacteria is completelygreen allowing the extraction of metals without soil contamination. Of using a solution of bacteria for extracting metals from black shale was developed in the mid-2,000s in Finland on another poly metallic black shale. The process is extremely inexpensive to operate and can be fine-tuned to extract different metals from the shale. The process itself is based upon heap leaching the shale after it has been ground up and piled in its better then sprinkled with the bacteria bearing solution. The pregnant bacteria solution is then pumped into a central point where the metal is extracted then the solution is recycled back into the heap leaching process.

Black shales are noted for their poly metallic mineraldeposits all over the world. One such black shale is the Marcellus shale found in the eastern United States that is now being exploited for its natural gas content. In the process of extracting the gas in the shale is Hydro Fracked so that after the gas is recovered a solution of the metal extraction bacteria could be pumped down the hole and allowed to extract any metals that are left in the shale.

Besides allowing the extraction of gold this process allows the recovery of virtually any other metal found associated with Black shales including rare earth elements. For just gold mining this process would obviate the use of cyanide or mercury for the extraction of gold. By fine tuning the process any number of other metals can be extracted.  Since the source of the bacteria is from the same area as the mine is causing this to be a completely green process.

This is only of a number of other processes that can be adapted from existing metal remediation used in the environmental remediation practice.  Once the proper bacteria are extracted from the environment and cultured there is no limit to the different types of metals that can be extracted using this process. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gold Occurrences in Costa Rica

Coat of Arms of Costa Rica

The very name Costa Rica in English means "Rich Coast" a country that has become the home to many expatriate Americans because of its stable government.  What makes it favorable to so many gold hunters is the chain of volcanoes reaching from north to south through the country.  There are several gold bearing regions found throughout the country associated with its volcanic nature.

The only producer in Costa Rico is presently “Inversiones Valle Columbia” that holds an exploitation concession right in the center of the historic Las Juntas mining district.  There are two veins LaPita and the Olga that have been developed into mines feeding the mill that supplied ore running from 10 grams to 20 grams per ton that were supplying up to 80 tons of ore per day.

Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica
Photo by Matthius Prinke

The owner of Invesions Valle Columbia, Luis Canto bought the Rio Chiquito mine from Corporacion Minerales Laguna SA in 2002 that has stated resources of almost 177,000 tons.  It’s his intention to prove and exploit this deposit that averages 11.18 g/t Au and 21.2 g/t Ag.

There is even a district in Costa Rico called the Montes de Oro, literally Mountains of Gold about 70 km west of the countries capital San Jose close to the town of Miramar overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  This mine owned by Glencairn is producing up to 60,000 oz of gold per year.  The property has produced gold off and on for more then a century.

At the Crucitas project Vannessa Ventures has acquired one of the premier gold producing areas in Costa Rico consisting of 10 concessions that cover 176 km2 where they have already spent over US$34 million in exploration and development.  Crucitas is ready for mine development containing measured, indicated and inferred resources of more then 2.4 million ounces of gold.

A long tradition of placer gold mining has affected the local population of the Osa  Peninsula in Costa Rico.  This goldfield that extends across three-quarters of the Peninsula has even managed to produce some large nuggets.  In this area you can at least pan colors in your distinctive gold pan that was developed by the local populace for their mining conditions.

There are several concessions of placer gold for sale in Costa Rica including one of 10 km2 in southwestern Costa Rica containing at least 7,500 kg of gold as stated by the Costa Rican Department of Geology.

This is similar to the subduction zone off the West Coast of Costa Rica.

A long subduction zone can be found off the west coast of Costa Rica that is the cause of so much volcanic activity in the country that supplies the “Heat Engine” necessary to build deposits of gold.  This is not only applicable to Costa Rica, but anywhere on Earth where similar conditions are to be found.  The whole west coast of the Americas have subduction zones laying just off their west coasts producing gold deposits from superheated water associated with the volcanism.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gold Mines of the Future

An underground waterfalls inside a gold mine.  Crusier

Future gold mines and mines in general haven’t changed much except incrementally in more then a century, a situation that has to change as mines keep getting deeper and hotter.  Theoretically it is possible to reach depths of 33,000 feet using existing technology, but at these depths human miners are not able to work efficiently calling for other technologies not depending on man.  There have been many advances in the scienceof robotics that may fill some of these needs, but other technologies are going to be needed too.  The engineering department of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario is one of many organizations working on the problem of developing the Future Mine work is progressing at both the university level and in the R&D labs of mining companies.

One of the first things to vanish from mines in the future is the headframe that has been a hallmark of underground mines for centuries.  The mine hoist will no longer be needed as in most mines the hoist and cables will be replaced with a Maglevsystem similar to that used today on Maglev railroads.  There is no reason why the Maglev system won’t work vertically as well as horizontally.

Explosives that have been used in mines since the 17th Century are another thing that is apt to be replaced by a system developed by Noranda Mines that makes use of high energy electricity that is stored in powerful condensers where the power is channeled into a drill hole filled with water that is ionized by having the electrical charge funneled into a thin copper wire between to steel rods.  The resulting explosion caused by the ionized water is extremely powerful capable of pulverizing rock, and is far safer to use then conventional explosives.

The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) has already been successfully used for boring many tunnels throughout the world, one place where it has been used is in New York City where it has cut the tunnels for the New York Water Tunnel #3 that is 28 feet in diameter and many miles long.  Variations of this system can be used to replace the system of drill and shoot that is presently used.  The use of the TBM allows very small suzes some as small as a beer can used to follow small veins in the rock that are overlooked during today’s mining techniques.

One thing that is certain as man goes further into the Crust of the Earth in his quest for minerals man himself is apt to be left behind replaced by robots.  Human miners will become redundant.  One visionary even sees robots the size of ants being used in future mines that would spat a bacteria charged solution onto ore bearing rock that would dissolve the metals that then would be recovered from the resulting solution.  Things they are achanging!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Strategic Alliances

This is a group of companies providing goods and services to the mining and exploration industry.  If you would like more information about our strategic allies they are listed below.

G&O Diamond Drilling Contractors is based out of Hay Lake, Alberta, Canada covers North America has over 40 years experience.  Their crews are trained to provide not only core drilling, but many of the other skills needed in modern mining practices.  You can contact them through the following link:

The Sonic Goldblaster 100

Goldlands is a company in Bellingham, Washington that makes Big Boys Toys for large scale placer mining up to 150 tons per hour. You can contact them through the following link: 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The World’s Deepest Gold Mine is cooled with Slush

A South African goldmine similar to the one in this article.
Photo by Babakathy

There is a certain amount of argument as to what is the world's deepest gold mine, but there is no doubt it is found in the Witwatersrand of South Africa. The latest contender for the title of world's deepest mine is the Mponeng mine of the West Wits district of the Witwatersrand.  The mine's name is derived from the Sotho word for “Look at me.” At 13,000 feet this presently holds the record as the worlds deepest mine. This record does not only apply to gold but any other product such as uranium that is mined from the deepest recesses of the earth.

This mine is so deep the only way it can be cooled to the highest temperature allowed by South African law of 83°F at the mine face is by refrigeration that makes a mixture of ice and water that we call slush.  There is several refrigeration units deep in the bowels of the mine made by IDE Industries headquartered in Israel that make slush as part of a scheme to make fresh water from sea water . The slush is held in readiness in underground reservoirs until it is piped to the working face of the mine.  After it has done its job of cooling the mine the warm water is pumped back to the surface where it originally came from by large electric pumps using tremendous amounts of electricity where it is allowed to cool off.

The mine contains 230 miles of shafts and tunnels that take the workers as much as 90 minutes to reach the working face of the mine allowing only five hours per shift at the working face.  The shaft is split into two sections causing the workers to have to walk to the second shaft before they can continue their journey to the bottom of the mine.  Most of the trip continues on rails that carry men, equipment and ore.  The final part of the journey is made in low tunnels that cause the men to walk hunched over with their miners lamps to brush the ceiling of the tunnels.  Some of the time they have to go down narrow stairways leading into the depths of the mine.

At present this mine is the deepest on earth, but it is possible to extend the depth of a mine to 33,000 feet with most of the work being done by robots.  This mine makes it too all apparent that no real changes have taken place in deep mining for more then 100 years, a situation that must change if we are going to continue extracting minerals from the depths of the earth.

We welcome comments on this subject!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

You don’t want to meet this guy while prospecting; a 15 foot diamondback rattlesnake

The world's largest diamondback rattlesnake. Look at the sheriff's leg for a size comparison .

At fifteen feet this might be a new world’s record for the largest poisonous snake in the world.  This nightmarish monster was recently caught in St. Johns County, Florida by the St. Johns Sheriffs Department.  This snake was so big it looked more like a boa constrictor or python then a rattlesnake.  This snake weighed around 170 pounds and is capable of swallowing a two year old child or one of your pets.  The only poisonous snakes in the world that even approach this monster in size are the Bushmaster of Central and Northern South America or the King Cobra of Southern Asia.  This snake is capable of striking for a distance of seven and a half feet with venom so powerful one bite is capable of killing 50 men. A bite from this snake is like having two quarter inch curved screwdrivers driven into your flesh. This huge diamondback was caught near the St. Augustine Outlet in a new subdivision of KB homes just south of Jacksonville, Florida

The fangs of the largest rattlesnake. The blade on the knife is four inches long.

Rattlesnakes of this size are unusual, but it was in 2009 that one almost this big was caught in Alabama that was fourteen feet long, and weighed over 100 pounds.  There are surly other monsters like this lurking around in the southeastern United States.  The Eastern Diamondback is found as far north as North Carolina, and as far west as the Mississippi River.  The snake is usually not as long averaging from 3.5 to 5.5 feet long although in one study an average length of 5.6 feet was found.  According to the Guinness Book of Records as of 2009 the longest eastern diamondback on record was 7.6 feet.  it is estimated this snake had been living since the late 1980s making you wonder if more of them are around, what they have been eating. how many others are there around like them and where are their offsprings or kin.

These snakes habitat is dry upland grassy areas although at times they can be found on dry hammocks in coastal wetlands.  The author once encountered a whole hammock full of them in the Everglades.  The eastern diamondback is an excellent swimmer so they may be encountered in swamps, lakes and rivers.

Another view of the largest rattlesnake showing a clear view of its head.

You may be wondering why this was included in Gold Mining & Prospecting this is because its habitat includes parts of the eastern goldbelt that extends through the southeast from Maryland to Alabama.  This is the scene of the first Goldrush in the United States and because of recent exploration activity is becoming one of the hottest areas in North America for finding gold.  You wouldn’t want to meet one of these guys on a prospecting trip because they could completely ruin your day.  Even the little ones could, and there are at least three other poisonous snakes in the southeast United States, the Copperhead, the Coral Snake and the Cotton Mouth.  Look out!

Followup: Further research on this story reveals it isn't true.  Although the rattlesnake was a large specimen of its species what gave it its apparent size was because the photographer taking the pictures was closer to the snake then the sheriff was.  Even if it wasn't 15 feet long a diamondback rattlesnake is still the largest and most poisonous snake in North America and should be respected.

In a further followup with Molly Davis a spokesperson with the St. John's County, Florida Sheriffs Department although the snake wasn't 15 feet long is was however a giant specimen nonetheless of an Eastern Diamondback.  The snake hunter who wasn't allowed to keep live specimens killed the rattlesnake because of its proximity to a housing development.  It was in some shrubbery at the entrance to the development where the snake was found.

This was an extremely dangerous animal with any member of the rattlesnake demanding much respect. It should be remembered that the newly born members of the rattlesnake clan are the most poisonous.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Building Stone Quarry for Sale in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts in red. 

For sale by owner a building stone quarry in the central Berkshires of Massachusetts.  This quarry is a turnkey operation that is ready to go complete with permits.  It produces flagstones and veneer from the famous Goshen stone a hard mica-schist that splits naturally into flat sheets of stone.

For further information contact John Carter at:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gold Occurrences in Nicaragua

Coat of Arms of Nicaragua

Nicaragua is the largest country in the isthmus of Central America, and the second largest country in Central America after Hondas.  Like the rest of Central America the country is amply endowed with gold and other minerals.  The country is often referred to as the land of lakes and volcanoes.  The presence of so many volcanoes is a sure sign that gold can be found throughout the country as both placer and lode deposits.  A line of volcanoes runs from north to south; some of them are extinct and others are active.  There are volcanoes having huge smoking mouths while others were blown away by violent eruptions leaving behind lakes that now occupy their calderas.

Gold mining is not an especially important component of Nicaragua’s economy although there are a few mines that have been producing gold since the 1940s.  This producer id the Limon Mine belonging to Glencairn Gold Corporation.  During a recent year this mine produced about 48,000 ounces of gold.  Altogether this mine has produced approximately 2.7 million ounces of gold in the period from 1941 and ending in 1979.  This was during the period when the mine was under the control of Noranda, a Canadian Mining Company.  The property is still in production.

A recent discovery of epithermal gold has been made in the southeastern part of the country by Nuevo Guinea a project of Radius Gold.  This is in an area of rolling farmland that is served by good roads from Managua making the extraction of gold an easy process.  More work by Radius on its 100% owned San Pedro discovery that is about 200 km west of Managua in an area of epithermal quartz veins located anomalous high readings of gold in stream sediments that has returned values that range from a trace ti as high as 6.8 g/t of gold.  There are several other occurrences of gold in Nicaragua that are undergoing exploration.  Some of these projects are the El Pavon, Rio Luna, El Limon, La Libertad and La India.

Nicaragua like most of the rest of Central America has been built up from a subduction zone that lies just off the west coast of the area.  It most probably began as an island arc with the islands through volcanic action becoming one continuous strip of land.  It was this volcanic action that caused the gold to be deposited in epithermal deposits.  Many times the hot gold bearing water found a place to be deposited in fault and shear zones.  Many of these deposits are apt to be traced over kilometers in length and width.

At one point in the development of the area the subduction zone split giving rise to the Caribbean Islands that in the more recent Lesser Antilles are mainly volcanic, the Greater Antilles are all known to be gold bearing, but it must be remembered these islands share a common ancestry with Central America.